Lynn's Journey with Lung Cancer

Survivor: Lung Cancer

Patient Info: Finished active treatment less than 5 years ago, Diagnosed: over 8 years ago, Female, Age: 59

  1. 1
    • Lynn
    • Experience with Lung Cancer
    about 5 years ago
    Lynn's Avatar

    Diagnosed

    Oh No

    It took several weeks to get to Oh No. Looking back, it was a comedy of errors. The mass was found on my lung by sheer luck! The complete journey is in blog form if you feel like exploring it. http://lifeaslynnseesit.blogspot.com/2008/07/beginning-journey.html I am the type of person who when dealing with tragedy, feelings are stuffed and its all about the business at hand. Cancer was no different. My initial response was disbelief. The only tears were when I told my daughter. It then struck me what was at stake.

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  2. 2
    • Lynn
    • Experience with Lung Cancer
    about 5 years ago
    Lynn's Avatar

    Lobectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    Emory's plan was to remove the tumor via thorascopic surgery. Assuming it had not moved into the lymph nodes, the procedure was to be a small incision under my armpit followed by 3-4 weeks recovery. Not so bad, eh? Well, because I needed a real lesson, that is not how it went at all. The tumor was larger than expected so once in with the thorascopic equipment, it was stopped for a full blown open thoractomy. The tumor ended up being large enough to qualify as a Stage 1B, even 2. It had grown from the middle lobe into the lower, but no signs of disease in the lymph nodes. Things certainly could have been worse. The worst part was walking with the chest tubes and other stuff. After seven days, I went home. I did not seem to be getting that much better. They had told me the procedure was harder to get over and recovery time would be about 6 weeks. But I really wasn't feeling much better. Three weeks post surgery, I took a turn for the worst. A microscopic fissure had occurred creating infection in the pleural cavity. There was a blob the size of a baseball on my back. I can feel it still today. My fever was 104. The local hospital wanted to lance it to see if that helped. As sick as I was, my response was "Are you nuts?" This bought me a ambulance ride back up to Emory. Did you know you can go 167 miles in about 55 minutes? :) Three days later I was back in an operating room for thoractomy #2. I joke today saying God knew how hard my head was and he wanted to be sure that I learned the lesson. Well, lesson certainly learned! About four weeks later, I was back at work part time. It was much to early to return and I regret that today. I was very weak. But bills needed to be paid and because of the double wammy, the sick & vacation days were gone (was about a week short). BUT, three years later, while still sore, I am alive.

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Neutral/NA
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  3. 3
    • Lynn
    • Experience with Lung Cancer
    about 5 years ago
    Lynn's Avatar

    Chemotherapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    Chemotherapy was ordered as an "insurance policy." Because the tumor was larger than expected, chemo was to assure that any renegade cancer cells were killed. The actual act of receiving it was not a bad experience. Actually, all things considered, it was a very pleasant experience. Everyone at the infusion center was compassionate, pleasant and bent over backwards to make the hours as easy as possible. It was comfortable. And they had those wonderful, toasty blankets from the warmer! Does it get any better? I had taken the before-you-go drugs and was ready. My treatment was to take 7 hours. One hour was the FYI from the pharmacist and getting everything ready. Two hours on the front and back end were hydration infusions. The final two hours were the actual drug infusion. Two days later it hit. Chemotherapy effected me severely. It sent me back to the hospital for IV fluids due to dehydration from the worst diarrhea known to mankind. Nausea was never an issue, however, they had given me three different medications to combat that. But the diarrhea was so bad I now know how third-world children feel as they face death from dehydration. I do not mean to be overly dramatic or frightening, but for me, it was the worst. My body simply did not react well to chemo. It may have been that prior to this experience I had not taken any drug of any kind, including aspirin for years. Perhaps my system was overly sensitive. About day 18 my strength returned. Day 21 was to be round 2. I quit. After talking to the surgeon again, I simply did not see how the means justified the end. BUT and this is a HUGE but... I had been told that they were 99% certain that all the cancer was out of my body. So the odds were pretty good. The 1% chance of some form of the disease still floating in me was worth the gamble. Otherwise I was going to spend the next six weeks feeling like death was at my door, unable to function. It did not make sense to me. I went on a six-month CT scan rotation -- a close watch to be sure I was in good health. At the 2-year mark, I was pushed out to yearly CT scans. And that is where I am today.

    Easy to Do: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Disagree
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  4. 4
    • Lynn
    • Experience with Lung Cancer
    about 5 years ago
    Lynn's Avatar

    Pain

    Side Effects

    See chemotherapy about those side effects. I have had several side effects. Coffee no longer tastes good. Sad, because coffee and I have had a 35 year love affair. Other food tastes exceptionally wonderful. This is likely due to no longer smoking and my taste buds rejoicing. I have gained weight. Again, no smoking and food tasting good is not a good combo when your metabolism was not so great to begin with. The two biggest issues are pain and shortness of breath. I can only speculate about both. On the shortness of breath, I do believe it is a result of the lobectomy because I did not have it prior to the surgery. And it is bad at times. I currently take three medications for breathing and have a rescue inhaler. Gratefully, oxygen was only necessary following surgery #2 and that ended about a month later. Pain has been my nemesis. Again, I can only speculate. My guess is much of is due to two open, full-blown thoractomies within a 30 day period. A thoractomy is a violent operation on the body. Bones are spread, sometimes broken. Cartilage is damaged. Nerves are destroyed. Muscle is torn. There is really nothing easy about it. I still feel like my ribs are protruding through my side. It feels like a basketball is crammed under my ribs. Perhaps this is from my other organs moving upward to fill the vacant space. But it is not comfortable. And there is some sort of phantom pain, especially where that ball of infection was. It is the most troublesome area. I have been through pain management clinic to no avail. The final offering there was to do a procedure that required more cutting. At this point of my life, that's a deal breaker. I have had enough cutting on and it is the cutting that troubles me today. So I opt to deal with the known rather than potentially opening up a new avenue of grief.

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  5. 5
    • Lynn
    • Experience with Lung Cancer
    about 5 years ago
    Lynn's Avatar

    Life!

    Celebration

    I learned I had cancer the week of my 50th birthday. Ick. Celebrating my birthday now really is a "more birthday" event. It also marks this journey. When my hair began to fall out because of chemo, I shaved my head. So did my daughter. So did my husband. There is nothing greater than complete moral support! Each day I wake up and celebrate this second chance. It has been almost four years since my cancer journey began. My commitment is to live each and every day as if it were my last because we just do not know what may happen. I believe that cancer survivorship is about attitude. Do not give up the fight. Stay positive and understand that you cannot control much of the journey. So surround yourself with those who are experts (for your care) and only those who have your best interest at heart. Count your blessing each day even in the face of fear. Attitude is everything!

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